August and September have been very busy months in East Africa. With news and changes in tourism, transportation, technology and much more, you may have missed some of the biggest headlines of the past couple of months. But don’t worry; we will help you stay connected.
Nairobi-Blantyre flights launched by Kenya Airways
For the first time, people traveling from Nairobi to Blantyre will be able to take a direct flight from thanks to a new route set by Kenya Airways. It is scheduled for three days a week- Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
The first flight of the new route took place in early August at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and carried Michael Kamau, the Minister of Transport for Kenya. Kamau believes this new route is crucial for trade, tourism, and overall connectivity in Africa. “These direct flights present an opportunity for two countries to deepen a relationship that has been flourishing over the years,” said Kamau.
Common tourist Visa coming soon for Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya
In an attempt to speed along a process that will help unite tourism through East Africa, Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya are fast tracking the process to issue common tourist Visas for tourists traveling through the three member states of East Africa. If all goes as planned, these common tourist Visas could be issued as early as January 2014.
A single Visa would allow travelers to pay only one Visa fee when entering one of the three countries, and be able to travel through all 3 countries without having to pay any additional fees. Having a single Visa for all three countries will welcome more tourism, as traveling fees would be reduced and the process would be much more convenient for travelers who wish to visit all three of these popular East African countries.
The process has already kicked off. During a summit earlier this year in Entebbe, all three came to an agreement to establish Mombasa as the preferred port of call, as well as linking with Nairobi, Kampala and Kigali by railway.
Security issues hinder dotcom growth in Nigeria
Online shopping is on the rise in throughout East Africa, however, concerns over fraud in Nigeria are slowing down the progress. The words of one online shopper, Sheffy Belo-Osagie, reveal a shared feeling throughout Nigeria, “The only thing I buy online in Nigeria is airline tickets, and that’s because the walk-in option isn’t exactly appealing,” says Bello-Osagie.
Due to past issues with scams and fraud stemming from Nigeria, some large companies refuse to allow customers from Nigeria. Apple restricts payments from Nigerian issued credit cards when purchasing from their online store. The world’s largest online payment processor, PayPal, has stated they will not operate in Nigeria, despite the fact that the country in projected to be the fourth most populated nation in the world by 2050. Entrepreneurs such as Sim Shagaya of Konga.com, and Tayo Oviosu of MyPaga are looking to change the perception of online shopping in Nigeria by offering safer opportunities for buyers and sellers.
Tanzania ahead of Kenya in Mid-Income Tourism
A recent survey conducted by CheapOair placed Tanzania as the most popular country for tourism for middle class travelers. Kenya ranked tenth in the survey.
The survey found that one of the contributing factors for the top 10 destinations was the cost of return tickets. With more mid-income travelers looking for budget friendly vacations, locations such as Tanzania allow them a very cost effective way to travel.
Part of the draw of Tanzania is also Mount Kilimanjaro. Bookings to the mountain increased by 49% and the cost of air fare decreased 6%. In addition to Kilimanjaro, respondents also noted the ability to lounge on the beaches of Zanzibar makes Tanzania even more attractive.
Eran Feinstein is the founder of Direct Pay Online. Direct Pay Online provides global e-commerce and online payments solutions for the travel and related industries He is a leading authority in the fields of e-commerce, travel and payments, having acquired extensive experience from various parts of the world.